Adulting is Hella Hard
Last week's Fresh-Like episode of Insecure was relatable for me on numerous levels. What makes being a maturing adult hard at times is that sometimes I don’t have the words to express what I’m going through. I onlyhave the feelings that I’m feeling and from my less mature self, my reactions to those feelings. Shedding the old, enjoying the adventure of the new, and being honest about the chief participants, in any of my situations, are lessons that I and the characters had to learn. I bet these are lessons you too have had to learn.
Out With the Old…
I firmly believe in getting rid of experiences, people, and things that no longer serve you to make room for those aspects of life that will. This is hard for me because naturally I’m sentimental and romantic. I’m connected to things through the memories I've attributed to them. They have an energy associated with them that is hard for me to let go. It feels like an abandonment of sorts.
About six years ago I went through my first major purge and reviewed most of the items in my home. It took a few days and was a hard undertaking but one that felt very cathartic. As I went through greeting cards, letters, pictures, and gifts, I was inundated with memories and the feelings connected to them. This all made me realize that I had buried the negative memories of my past instead of working through and letting them go. With each item that I put in the trash I said, “Thank you” and “Goodbye.” By the end of a big pile on the first day I felt exhausted; emotionally drained. My place looked a wreck and all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t. Instead, I cleaned up a bit to move and clear the energy and ensured my bedroom was still and serene before I went to bed.
For the next fewdays I continued on with my purge. As I got used to physically letting things go, I began questioning some habits I’d adopted, like storing these items and burying bad memories. While I was curious about the genesis of these habits, I did not let my curiosity stop my forward movement. The thought of throwing away greeting cards or gifts used to feel so rude, disrespectful, and dismissive of the thought and time someone dedicated to me. This was questioned especially when I considered that some of these people were no longer in my life and probably would not be again. We experienced what we experienced when we did and that was that. Photos and letters were and still are hard for me to part with or destroy because they capture a time and space and easily trigger memories that are hard for me to release. Also, I appreciate the documentation of my life through still and moving images and the written word. There was a time when I didn’t want to have pictures of myself. When I realized that I could be going through a photo album with my grandchildren that didn’t show my evolution, my journey, I fully embraced the recording of my life. With that said, I still have loads of photos that I need to trash. Since I have a such a strong connection to them I asked a good friend if she would do the honors once I’m ready.
After throwing away the first few cards the feeling of being free and light took hold. It was then that I realized the truth in something that I had read and heard, get rid of that which no longer serves you to make room for what does, for what you want. Physically letting things go also led to the ability to emotionally let things go. The freeing feeling continued and carried me as I recycled, donated, or trashed gifts, as I shredded old bills, and personal papers, and as a bonus, as I deleted what seemed to be a never-ending amount of emails. After expressing gratitude, I let go.
“Ok we need to start a trash box, ‘cause you say you don’t want to wind up in old shit, but you can’t bring old shit into your new life.” -Molly, Insecure
Molly was on point and being a great bestie by starting that trash box for Issa. Her questioning what she was keeping was key in supporting the growing ennui Issa was experiencing. And like Issa, I too have gone back in the trash pile and “saved” items only to forever relinquish them. From this I’ve learned two lessons:
- I have to be ready to let go, which happens through me deeply exploring why I am keeping an item. Once that happens, I can fully let go.
- I learned, and Issa did too, that the trash has to go out immediately!
I think what was key about beginning to get rid of the old -in the obvious way of Molly throwing items into the trash box and in the circuitous way of Issa saving items or rather memories from that box only to throw them away again- is that when she released those memories, when she released those things, when she finally let go, she found the most important part of herself; an everlasting part of her soul, music. Music has been a thread in Issa’s life since she was a child. It keeps finding its way into her life and over the years, in the background has been brewing into a pining. Music is a part of her core and her rap journal is a physical reminder of an aspect of herself that she could no longer hide from herself. Figuratively and literally her shedding elements of her past opened up so much space for her to potentially live her dreams. With her brave moves Issa lived in the moment, lived in her truth, and quit We Got Y’all. This was the biggest testament of her deep, subconscious belief in herself and her abilities.
That’s the power of making space for that which you want and not only that which you’ve had.
The Adventure of the New
“Sometimes you gotta go for it even when it don’tmake sense to nobody else.” -Nathan, Insecure
Oh the joy of a new crush, a new dress, a new job, a new car, a new phone, a new… New can be thrilling, exciting, and can bring about a sense of adventure. New can offer a sense of being; a sense of invincibility; a sense of exhilaration. New gives us the opportunity to access and experience diverse sides of our character. To share deeper parts of our being that normally wouldn’t see the light of day. New gets us out of our comfort zone and into a place where we have to leap into our imagination, into our visions, into us. We may find ourselves opening up to a stranger during an impromptu walking tour, or we may find ourselves living our truth everywhere.
That sense of adventure, of exhilaration is catching. It can cure the feeling of ennui and can aid in distracting one long enough to break a bad habit. It can also become a bad habit.
Positive, negative, or neutral, new can be a formidable catalyst. It used to be for me in all three ways. In the least desirable way, I used to love new things, accessories, shoes, or the latest tech gadgets. All these things brought so much thrill to my life. Don’t get me wrong when I find a key piece, a staple my eyes still go big like a cartoon character but, there was a time when life seemed to slump down towards the feeling of boredom and those new things brought a small sense of joy, confidence, and oddly at times a feeling of accomplishment. Fierceness would flow down my legs and inject a pump into my stride as I experienced wearing a new outfit. “Boss B*tch!” would maneuver my fingertips on my new phone. But I caught myself once. I excitedly opened the packaging expecting an amazingpiece of tech to be in my hands. What I opened up and played with led me to say “This is exactly the same as the old model.” Then was when that I started being self-aware and noticing what emotions were brewing when I wanted something new. What was I attaching to that “thing” on top of whatever the advertisers contrived to make me feel.
New had become an escape, a sleight of hand, a distraction from dealing.
The excitement of the new can sometimes mask mystery like who is Nathan and is he running from something. When Issa is honest about why her and Lawrence broke up, Nathan’s response, while true, could be him trying to soothe Issa or it could potentially be a sign that he’s hiding something,
“Damn. That was honest. I mean, we all got somethin’. You just gotta grow from it.” Nathan, Insecure
That new crush, that new boss, that new exciting friend, sometimes new injects adventure into what seems like the ordinary; the doldrums. Ride that positive wave to manifest something that YOU really want deep down inside.
It’s Not Only Them. Sometimes It’s Also You.
At work, I wasn’t always a star. There were times when one of my bosses would annoy me with their questionable or bullying ways. During those times I had to try hard to remain professional and be mentally at work. During the worst of times after I plotted my departure, I would think about places I would visit. My friends and I would commiserate over coffee breaks or happy hours about how bad the company we worked for was, how terrible our bosses were, and how if we were in charge we would be amazingat reaching the goals and alleviating employee angst.
Initially spurred by family or older friends, when things didn’t improve I had to have a moment of truth and consider how I was adding to the situation. I couldn’t always blame everyone else; I had to look within to move out of the situations I didn’t want to be in. When I would finally start working with a life coach she introduced what she called, “The Integrity Model”. This model has stayed with me since. It states that in any given moment you can change your thought and/or your action. After considering this model, I knew that I had to change my thoughts while I made plans to change my actions.
The other advice that perpetually guides me through is that of my dear mother. When I was younger she would say, “Reflect on your life.” I observed my behavior at work through a new lens of affecting my behavior and not someone else’s. What could I change? Since I opted to be there, I needed to be there physically and mentally. It seemed that Molly had a similar internal shift after her session with her therapist. Her desire to be a star left her looking at her experience from the outside in versus from the inside out. She was as much a part of her situation as were her colleagues.
Like a child without language to communicate or articulate, actions and behavior were used instead. It wasn’t always everybody else’s fault. Some of the time my behavior was my way of expressing how much I either didn’t want to be there, didn’t want to work for my boss, wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, or just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Reflecting on my life and my actions allowed me to enact the necessary change in thought and in action.
How has adulting been going for you? Let me know in the comments of any tips you have that can help us all with adulting.